Skip to content

Lucky Loader’s Topham Chase Preview: Skelton Can Sail Away At Aintree

The Topham Chase is always a great spectacle to watch, which normally takes place on the Friday before the Grand National. It’s a race over 2m5f and includes running over the National Fences, which provides a unique test. Furthermore, it can throw up all kinds of results, including big-priced winners like last year’s victor, Bill Baxter, at 28/1, so it’s all worth trying to think outside the box.

Aintree National Fences Horse Racing

Looking at this year’s renewal Crebilly has been put in as favourite after he finished second in the Plate Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Before that run, he had been in good form, running behind the likes of Grey Dawning and Ginny’s Destiny, which has been franked on several occasions, including in Grade 1 company. The son of Soldier Of Fortune is now 3lb higher than his last run at Cheltenham, but he must enter calculations, provided he takes to the fences.

One horse that I am interested in for this race is Sail Away. Last season, he was an emphatic winner at Ayr at the Scottish Grand National meeting, beating the likes of Forward Plan, who has been a real improver in handicaps this year. We’ve seen more of him this season than in previous seasons, but he looks like he’s been campaigned with a valuable pot in mind. 

Dan Skelton has had a habit of winning plenty of big races this season, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he has ear-marked this race for the eight-year-old gelding. The last time he ran, he came in fourth in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase in February, which looked to be a prep for a race like this. He’s currently 12/1 with Rhino, which looks like a fair price. If he does win this, he’ll definitely help add to Dan Skelton’s tally in the trainers’ championship.

Elsewhere, another horse who has made my shortlist for this race is Francky Du Berlais. The 11-year-old gelding is getting on a bit now, but he’s been a terrific horse for his connections, which included a fourth-place finish in this race in 2022 off a 1lb higher mark. Furthermore, his trainer, Peter Bowen, has a great record in this race, winning it on five occasions, so he knows exactly what kind of horse you need. 

This season, Francky Du Berlais has been ticking over well and put up a solid effort back in December to finish second in the Cross Country race. If he runs in the Topham, he’ll be running after a short break, so he comes here fresh, which isn’t a bad angle. He might not be good enough to win the race, and he could be vulnerable to younger legs, but I still think his current price of 33/1 each-way makes a lot of appeal, and he’s no forlorn hope with his previous experience in races of this nature.

Whatever you decide to play I hope you enjoy the race, and please remember to gamble responsibly!

Topham Selections

Sail Away (12/1)

Francky Du Berlais (33/1)

Read also...